They cry, play and at times bombard us with a barrage of questions, yet our children can remain distant emotionally even when we stay with them. You can talk but never communicate, live together but never get to know each other.
If you went with your child to an island with no television to watch, newspaper to read, or no toys to play with, for how long would you interact or sustain a conversation? I can visualise your child opting to sleep after you have gazed at each other with nothing to talk about. Irrespective of your childâ€™s age, have you ever held an intimate conversation?
Recently, I escorted a friend to visit her son at school. The boy was called from class and the parent had to wait for half an hour to see the class teacher. I felt it wasnâ€™t polite for me to hover around my friend while she was with her son. I excused myself and stepped aside. After exchanging greetings, mother and son gazed at each other in total silence. I teased her that they looked like strangers in a blind date at a beach.
â€œKyoka Jamesa! What conversation can I hold with that young boy?â€ she said. It then struck me that my friend might be falling within the category of parents, who talk with children but fail to communicate.
Social research on family communication shows that most parents spend very little time talking to their children. When they speak, it is often to do with registering a complaint, giving a command or requesting for assistance. This mode of communication is becoming common even among adults. As a result, children and parents become total strangers to each other. Here is how to build intimacy:
l Friendship or intimacy does fall the sky. You must initiate it. If you want a friendly child, be a friend to the child.
l Friendship and discipline go hand in hand. It is easier to discipline a child who views you as a friend than one who detests you as an enemy. A child, who loves you will strive to do only what pleases you.
l Many parents find it difficult to initiate a conversation with their children because they are in different worlds. Use questions like: â€œWho is your best friend at school?â€ You can also use the childâ€™s questions and concern to initiate a talk. It all depends on the childâ€™s age.
l Teenagers are especially sensitive. However, if you develop an intimate relationship early enough, teenage years should not be a problem. Find interesting pegs to a conversation and do not ask questions that make your child feel that you are interrogating him or her.
l The best conversation between you and your child occurs when others are not around. Organise regular outings to places of your preference. Break the home monotony and make the child feel relaxed.
l Research shows reduced incidences of stress, suicide, drug abuse and teenage pregnancies among children, who hold regular talks with their parents.
An important part of communication is not just talking, but listening. Pay attention to your childâ€™s feelings and do not interrupt when he or she is telling a story. It all begins with accepting and valuing your child as a human being.
Build intimacy with your children